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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

‘Game of Thrones’ is back: Here’s what you need to know

HBO revives the Game of Thrones universe this Sunday with “House of the Dragon.” Will it live up to its predecessor?
Princess Rhaenyra, as portrayed by Emma D’Arcy in “House of the Dragon.” (Photo courtesy of HBO)

Editor’s note: This article contains mention of sexual violence.

Three years after HBO aired the controversial finale of its flagship series “Game of Thrones” (GOT), the network will debut the franchise’s first spin-off series on Aug. 21 on HBO and HBO Max

“House of the Dragon” promises to be a noteworthy television event, a watercooler series at a time when it’s harder than ever to watch television as a community. The question on everyone’s mind: Can “House of the Dragon” mirror its predecessor’s explosive success? Here’s what we know so far.

 All in the [Targaryen] family

 Unlike its predecessor’s kingdom-spanning storylines, “House of the Dragon” will focus primarily on House Targaryen. The show will follow GOT fan-favorite character Daenerys Targaryen’s ancestors in the lead up to the Dance of the Dragons, a massive civil war that shakes Westeros and begins the degradation of the Targaryen dynasty. 

Veteran British actor Paddy Considine will star as King Viserys I Targaryen, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Other cast members include Emma D’Arcy and Milly Alcock as an older and a younger version of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the king’s daughter and first child; “The Crown” actor Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen, next-in-line to the Iron Throne; Rhys Ifans as Ser Otto Hightower, Hand of the King; and Olivia Cooke as Lady Alicent Hightower (Otto’s daughter). Fans can also expect appearances from Steve Toussaint and Eve Best as Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys Valeryon, two of the Targaryens’ fiercest allies.

 More dragons, more drama

 Get ready for some dragons! Variety reported in April that “House of the Dragon” season 1 will cost up to $20 million per episode, more expensive than GOT’s final season. Why the high price? A good guess is a huge increase in the use of computer generated imagery (CGI). Dragons, created via CGI, are House Targaryen’s weapon of choice and a huge part of their power. Expect them to play a central role in the plot from the first episode.

 That being said, fans of GOT’s political intrigue need not worry that the show’s dragons will overshadow its human characters. According to showrunner Ryan Condal, “House of the Dragon” writers used shows like “Succession” and “The Crown” when drafting the series’ 10 episodes.

 “This is the Dance of the Dragons,” Condal said to IGN. “It’s a civil war that happens within a singular family, which in a way makes it much more engrossing and tragic because you see people who are blood relatives turning against each other and going to war.” 

Viewers should look forward to the dialogue-heavy political plotting that dominated GOT’s earlier seasons. In other words, don’t expect another Battle of the Bastards right out of the gate.

 A more sensitive series?

 GOT faced controversy throughout its run for its graphic depictions of sexual violence. A season five scene featuring the rape of main character Sansa Stark was especially contentious, even attracting the ire of national politicians. 

The writers and producers of “House of the Dragon” seem to have taken heed of the criticism. Writer and executive producer Sara Hess announced in April that the show would not depict any sexual violence. Hess also told reporters that the show would examine the difficulties its female characters face in the Seven Kingdoms, including power imbalances and the normalization of manipulative behavior against women. 

It is yet to be seen if “House of the Dragon” will address other criticisms levied on its predecessor, including complaints of excessive female nudity and marginalization of LGBTQIA+ characters. At the very least, however, “House of the Dragon” seems to be aware of the vastly changing social landscape into which it is entering.

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About the Contributor
Corey Feuer
Corey Feuer, Former Opinion Copy Editor

Corey Feuer (‘25) is from Silver Spring, Maryland. He is majoring in human & organizational development (HOD) in Peabody College. When Corey is not watching 'It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,' he is working as a job coach for Next Steps Vanderbilt and translating historical Holocaust testimonies from Hebrew. You can reach him at [email protected].

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